Turn around a corner just past the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM for short) and you’ll soon stumble upon a postcard-perfect time warp of olde worlde stores, a quaint cobbled lane, and more bunting than you’d have thought possible. This is Gandy Street, a little pedestrianised lane that time forgot…
Exeter, Devon’s Beautiful Cathedral City
Though significantly smaller than the port city of Plymouth, the beautiful cathedral city of Exeter is populated by British pubs, small boutiques, and countless hidden gems. Of note for visiting is the newly renovated Princesshay district, as well as the timeless Cathedral Green.
After all, it’s here underneath the Green where one of the largest Roman bathhouse complexes in the UK is alleged to lie. Elsewhere in the city, there’s nothing quite like hanging out by the cool quay in the sweltering months. With its many bars and cafés, you can even rent a paddle boat during the summer and splash on the water.
Gandy Street: The Little Exeter Road That Time Forgot
Somewhere between the Main High Street and Exeter Central Station, Gandy Street has been recorded as having a fair few names over the years. So ancient is this thoroughfare, that it’s even likely the site of an ancient walkway where Roman boots would have once walked. Behind RAMM museum, vestiges of the Roman city wall that once surrounded Exeter can still be spied today.
Back at Gandy Street, the buildings predominantly date back to the 19th-century. By the 17th-century, the side street had been come to be known as St Lucie’s Lane before a further (and final) name change to ‘Gandy’ for a wealthy Devonian family. At No. 23, John Gandy’s namesake pub is ever a popular venue among locals and students alike.
In more recent times, the street has allegedly served as part of the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter wizarding series. The reason for this being both the narrow and secretive nature of the street, as well as the Vault’s, a bar that many have suggested is reminiscent of Gringott’s Bank.
If you have a little more time while in the area, be sure to head to No. 15 for The Mugglers Inn, a magically-inspired bar that serves cocktails with names such as ‘First Year Experiment’ and ‘Berry Worms’.Update: As of May 2019, the Mugglers Inn (formerly known as the Cauldron Inn) has been closed for refurbishment. Nearby, the narrow street of Parliament Street is supposedly the narrowest lane in England!
How to visit Gandy Street in Exeter
Easily one of the most beautiful roads in Exeter, the cobbled street is open 24/7 and so is always accessible. With that being said, the shops are obviously open at varying times across the week so it’s best to check ahead if you have a place in mind!
For those wanting to capture the street, heading to the road earlier in the day and mid-week is best if you want fewer people in your photos. And if you’re looking for a quirky eatery with delicious food that’s perfect for a little lunch date, then Red Panda at 29, Gandy Street serves fare like bao buns, tofu bowls, and plenty of other delights!